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Should I stay in contact with my dog’s previous owner?

While it’s great to buy a dog from a breeder or adopt a shelter dog, many of us adopt dogs directly from their previous owners.

I adopted my mutt Ace directly from his previous owner and after our initial conversations and meetings, we did not talk again. We’d talked over the phone several times and met in person twice, but once I officially left her house with Ace, that was that.

Mostly she just wanted to find a new home for that annoying, hyper pup that was adding more stress than he was worth. Sometimes I’ve wanted to contact her again – to ask her to check out my blog, to tell her Ace is a great dog – but I’ve lost her number and can’t remember her name.

If Ace’s previous owner ever does stumble across this blog, I doubt she’d even recognize him. He has a new name and in many ways is a new dog. He has a new life now, not necessarily better but I like to think so. He moved on years ago, and so has she.

Dogs are re-homed all the time. That’s life.

If you want to stay in contact with your dog’s previous owner, you should. If you don’t want to, then don’t. It’s your choice, not the previous owner’s choice.

I won’t adopt a dog from a person who wants to stay involved in the dog’s life. But I’m not referring to breeders. Dog breeders are used to parting with puppies and remaining available for questions about the breed throughout the pup’s life. That’s great. It’s what a good breeder should do. I’m referring to the average family giving up a dog.

I want to raise my dog, train him and socialize him my way. I don’t want someone hovering over me and asking how he’s doing or giving me advice. And I definitely do not want someone stopping in to check on what is supposed to be my dog.

That’s just me.

For other people, staying in touch with the dog’s last owner is no problem.

If you stay in touch with your dog’s old owner, here’s my advice:

Before you adopt the dog, decide with your own family how often you are comfortable interacting with the original owners. How often do you want them to visit you, call you, email you or write you? If you are annoyed with the people and can tell they are going to be clingy just by talking over the phone, then consider another dog.

If you don’t live in the same state or town, it will be easier. If you live closer, then it’s even more important to know what you are comfortable with. If you live in a medium-sized town like Fargo and they live in a small town, keep in mind they might want to stop in and see their dog every time they make a weekend trip to “the city.” But you have every right to say you do not want to continue a relationship.

Be prepared if the family decides they want to keep the dog after all.

This happens a lot. Sometimes family members know it’s best to part with their dog, but they feel guilty and just can’t do it. They change their minds at the last minute. Because of this possibility, don’t become too attached to a dog before you even bring him home. There are thousands of homeless dogs out there – several would be a good match for your family.

Once you have agreed to adopt the dog, tell the previous owners to always call before they visit. This will prevent unannounced drop-ins. Believe me, people can get very attached to and weird about their pets even after re-homing them. I’d get pretty annoyed if people started showing up every weekend.

Dogs can adapt well to a new environment.

As for the dog being re-homed with you, he will adjust just fine. I guarantee it. I adopted my mutt Ace when he was a year old. The best thing I did for him and his adjustment period was to walk him for an hour right when I brought him home. This helped him get rid of pent-up energy, and we started the bonding process right away.

Once you get your new dog home, start enforcing rules and training immediately. Continue walking him every day for a good half-hour or longer. Don’t be lenient because you feel bad for him about missing his old family. He will adapt much quicker if you don’t feel sorry for him.

It would be best if he could go a month before his old family visits, just so he can get used to your family and your routine and feel comfortable with you. Once a month or so has passed and things are going well, there’s nothing wrong with the previous owners visiting as long as you are OK with it. The dog would probably think it’s great! All his favorite people in one spot!

Remember, they are the ones who gave up the dog in the first place.

It’s their loss, their mistake. It’s your dog now, not theirs. If all you want is to send them a card or an email once a year, then that’s your choice. I recommend doing that at least once. It would be nice for them to know the dog is in good hands and loved. People have to give up dogs for many reasons, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about the dog anymore. Seeing that their dog is happy in his new home would help give the previous family some closure. It’s also a great way to show off how well you and the dog are doing.

Do you have a “hand-me-down” dog? Do you keep in contact with his previous owner?

Melissa V.R.

Friday 30th of September 2022

I met my dog and his previous owner Sept 2021 because she needed a sitter. We did a meet and greet and she really liked me so I looked after him a week and a few weekends. He’s a 6 year old maltese/dachshund.

Her sister was looking after him while she was away in BC for about a month before I adopted him. Last December, less than a week before Christmas her sister contacted me and told me she broke her leg and needed me to look after him. When I came to pick him up, that’s when I found out his owner was giving him up. I immediately said that I would love to take him. I remember I told him (yes I talk to dogs) while I was just his sitter that I wished he was mine. I told him that when I was looking after him in September for only a week. Of course I didn’t actually think he would be mine, it was just a wish. That night when I got him she called me told me she was so happy I wanted him. She was so afraid to have him go to a stranger and I kept him instead of bringing him back for Christmas. Personally I don’t know why any of her family couldn’t take him, but if they could I think they would have. Wishes really do come true.

The owner gave him up because she was moving to BC and getting renovations done on her new home. I think there are more reasons, none of which are because of him not being a good dog, or anything like that but her life was changing and she felt it was better for him to have a new family. I know that she wouldn’t have given him up unless she really had to. She was a wonderful owner, I knew that when I met her. She loved and cared for him so much, but not seeing him for a month made it easier to make her decision, but in no way was it easy. It was very difficult for her. She spent a lot of time thinking about it and cried over it. I think if she didn’t see him for that long, she might not have given him up. My heart breaks for her almost every day. Sometimes I’ll even tear up.

I’ve sent her a few updates, I haven’t sent any since the end of April though. She was happy to get them. She could every month if she wanted, but I wonder if she’s afraid of bothering me or that it would be too hard. I don’t know if she has moved on. I’ll consider updating her again soon and then tell her that I would happily update her for the rest of his life, but I’d rather she choose if and when she would like to contact me.

When she comes back to Ontario, I’d love for her to see him if she wants. She already knows he is great hands and loving his life with me, but seeing it is different.

My situation with her is different than most people who adopt a dog straight from the owner. The circumstances of her giving him up were nothing to do with him or her not being a good owner.


Thursday 22nd of October 2020

I finally got my dream dog (golden retriever but this one was a golden mix) after two months of applying and being rejected by many, many rescues. However, I found out I was severely allergic to her on the second day I had her. After a week with her I made one of the most difficult decisions I ever had to make and contacted the rescue to let them know I couldn’t keep her long term and that I’d foster her until she got adopted. I lived on Zyrtec and Benadryl for the one month I had her. She’s been gone for a week and a half now and I’ve been crying every day and looking at old photos and videos I took of her. The family I chose was perfect for her. I contacted them twice after she got adopted and told myself I had to stop even though they said I could visit her anytime. I spend most of my days regretting my decision. I haven’t vacuumed the house so her fur is still everywhere, toys laying around, her collar and leash are sitting on top of her crate, dog bowls are still on the ground with dog food that was put out on the morning she was adopted, the water bowl slowly evaporating. I’ve had several dreams about her. Some days when I wake up and don’t see her laying by me, I’ll call out her name thinking she’s in another room and forgetting that she’s not with me anymore. This is one of the hardest things I’ve gone through.


Monday 21st of August 2017

Hi I've just recently rehomed my 6 month Labrador which I'm absolutely DEVATSTED about to the point where I'm Not sleeping at all . The reason I rehomed him was done with every intention of trying to correct it- I was 4 months pregnant when we got him, we actually got him from a family that were abandoning him and leaving him in the house for hours! I couldn't bear it n when we went to visit I got him straight away and gave them More money than I should have done (long story) out of desperation He had lots of training needed because they weren't even walking him. I painstakingly did everything training etc, the problem was his separation anxiety- I work full and being pregnant. It was a very difficult process- I work In Manchester which is about 10 miles from where I live so including rush hour traffic he was being left for upto 6 hours. It was a nightmare and I was diagnosed with weak cervix n strictly told I needed "bed rest " well bed rest and the dog do not mix. I was devastated I knew then I'd have to rehome him. Hardest decision in my life.

To cut this story short, I advertised him n painstakingly chose a family that were an elderly couple who had Labrador all their lives, . They currently have a 13 year old lab n said they always had two at a time, their last lab passed away. They also had grandchildren who visited frequently which I thought was perfect as my boy was attached to my 8 year old daughter. What attracted me was they invited us to their house to bring him to meet their other Labrador. I thought this was a good sign as most responses I was getting - they were jjst wanting to pick him Up from ours etc. The weird thing was they lived 10 mins away from Us which also attracted me. Even used the same doggy pubs we go to. Everything seemed really smooth, they invited us in the morning I have to say they had a lot of knowledge on labs. They both said that because he seemed happy n their dog did that we leave him. I wasn't happy with this but it all happened so fast :( Both the woman and man kept saying to me nnmy daughter we'd be able to visit him and even walk him Which was comforting.

Anyway, since we left him there's been nothing :( in so upset. I text n asked her how he was she sent two pictures n said he had settled in fine (which tbh I don't believe cos as we left him he was coming back to us crying) Then NOTHING since, it's been 5 days I've text a few times asking when we can see him? Iv tried to be as dimplomatic and gentle as possible just reminding them of their words that "we could see him Anytime and even walk him" NOTHING. I'm almost suicidial It's that bad. I can't understand it- we were always very accommodating to his last owners we got him off n even let them Come round n see him. Why are they behaving this way? It's not like I've saId I want him back. I just wanted to see him and say a proper goodbye as it all happened so fast. I think it would help? Am I being unreasonable? What is the next step? I don't think I can cope if they don't let us visit him. Is there anything I can do? I was thinking of just turning up to their house but I'm Not that sort of person, Iv tried txting saying my daughter is upset etc but no response I think this is really harsh. It would maybe give us some closure just to see him in his new environment, please could you advise? Thanks

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 21st of August 2017

I'm sorry you had to re-home your dog. It sounds like you did the right thing and he is settling in nicely. That was nice of them to respond to your first text and say he's settled in nicely. I understand it must be so hard to have parted with him but my advice is to let him go. You did the right thing by finding him a wonderful home but if the new family would like some time to themselves to adjust I would respect that. Maybe send another followup text in a week to check in or call and leave a short message. If they invite you to see him, then that's great! If not, I would personally give them space and try to move on. I know it must be hard.


Saturday 22nd of April 2017

I am rehoming my dog Milo next weekend. Long story, but the rescue we got him from didn't disclose his history of biting the foster dogs and he bit my daughter a couple weeks after we got him and the rescue wouldn't take him back. 5 years, three trainers and 4 bites to my daughter (all unprovoked) later, I had to come to the heartbreaking decision to rehome him. We are working with a wonderful rescue that was very diligent to find Milo the right foster family (no kids). I would love to be updated but respect their decision if they don't want too. What I'm more curious/worried about is how hard it is for an adult dog to adjust to new owners and a new home? If anyone has adopted an older dog, I'd love to hear how that worked. This is such a heartbreaking decision and I want nothing more than Milo to adjust quickly and be happy and well loved. Not a day will go by that I don't miss him but I hope he won't miss me.


Monday 27th of March 2017

Hi, I have had a rescue chihuahua for about 9 months. She would roll on her back tail to her belly and pee if she had eye contact,she lived behind the toilet and had to have 7 infected teeth pulled. ive been working with her and she is almost dog again, she seems happy with training,routine and exercice But everytime we see her previous bipolar owner she goes nuts with happiness!! just wanting in the womans arms an whimpers and cuddles her and then acts strange with me at home for a bit. WHY?? WHY???